Students Learn To Soar With Hovercraft ProjectPosted: Updated:
Sometimes it's hard to get a project off the ground, especially when you're literally trying to get your project off the ground.
Armed with house wrap, a few markers, and a giant plastic circle, fifth and sixth graders at Heuvelton Central School tackled making hovercrafts.
"They're learning math and science and social studies and limits and team building and leadership all at one time," said Matthew Chase, who created the Hovercraft Project.
Chase started the Hovercraft Project 15 years ago when he was a teacher in Illinois as a way to teach his students about friction.
Now he travels around the country to different schools doing this hands-on project with students.
"My favorite thing as a teacher back in the day was to trick kids into learning to do something that they love so much that at the end of the day they realize -- 'wait a second, I just learned about friction and I had no idea that I was going to learn about friction' -- that's amazing."
Students are put into groups and everyone has a job. They work together to design, assemble, and eventually test out their hovercrafts.
Sixth grader Bella Whalen is her group's team leader.
"My team is great with working together," she said. "We've had a little interruptions with fights, but we got through it."
The teachers are there just to observe.
"The problem-solving skills are not coming from direct instruction from us, they're coming from within their groups to figure out a solution," sixth grade science/math teacher Scott Sargent said. "It's an awesome experience."
Chase says there's one life lesson he hopes these students take away from the project: valuing yourself.
"You cannot be a leader if you do not value yourself," he said. "You cannot be a team member if you do not think you have something to contribute and you don't value yourself, so first off you've got to value yourself."
By the end of the day, students took off, gliding across the gym floor on their hovercrafts.
"It was fun," fifth grader Alona Simmons-Noel said. "When I got pushed they did it just right so that way it was level and it wasn't tilting so it went quite a bit of a ways."
"They're pretty cool," Reid Hazelton said. "They're fun to ride."
Chase is taking the Hovercraft Project to other north country schools. He's at Madrid-Waddington on Tuesday.